Consistency Separates The Good From The Great

Consistency. When I hear that word, I cringe a little. It’s a word that makes me think: boring, too many details, not challenging and routine. It makes me think of people that get stuck in the same old boring job that they hate, just because it is routine. Fun and creative people aren’t supposed to be consistent, right?

I think one of the hardest parts about the first few years after college is facing the fact that consistency will eventually become a part of your life. At face value, consistency means that your rent check is due each month and you have to go to work every day.At work it means you have to take care of your clients consistently. Yes, even if you are in a bad mood, even if you don’t feel well, and even if your mind is not there. Why do we love McDonald’s, Starbucks and Good Morning America? Because they are consistently there for us with the same product and there are no surprises.

Think about why most attempts at dieting, starting a business and paying down debt fail: they lack consistency. In each of these examples, the person attempting to overcome a hurdle shoots themselves in the foot by constantly “re-inventing the wheel” just as things get going. First it’s the Atkin’s diet, then it’s going Vegan, then yoga, then running the Chicago marathon…All good efforts but none that are likely to stick if you change up your plan every week.

I don’t believe there is any kind of magic formula behind achieving great things in life, but I do think the simple and boring concept of consistency is greatly overlooked in those great achievements. I love the chapter in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers called “The 10,000 Hour Rule.” The chapter gives examples, including Bill Gates and The Beatles, of those who have achieved great things due to putting in thousands of hours of practice. Think about the great athlete who practiced for thousands of hours before he got to play pro. Bill Gates spent countless hours a day programming before the thought of starting Microsoft ever crossed his mind. The couple that stays married for 35 years and is able to retire with plenty of money in the bank and with no mortgage payment practiced consistency. I’m sure the people in each of these examples didn’t always have fun, but over time their consistency paid off.

In today’s world things are fast paced. We are used to instant gratification through technology and many of us enjoy the luxury of constant entertainment without even realizing it. It seems like these two things have also handicapped our sense of reality. If you want to lose 20 pounds it’s not going to happen today. If you have lots of debt, that won’t be paid off today either.

So when it comes to your career or reaching any of your long-term goals, keep in mind that consistency is key. Even though consistency can be boring at times, it separates the average person from the great person over time.

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.